Alain Vigneault only has been Flyers head coach a little over a year but that’s long enough to know this franchise hasn’t won a playoff series since 2012.
It’s the longest postseason drought in this team’s history and fairly amazing, given that Philadelphia has only been knocked out in the first round 17 times since the inaugural season 53 years ago.
Up 3-1 going into Wednesday night’s Game 5 in their best-of-seven first-round series against Montreal, the Flyers were finally in position to end that frustration.
In a midday Zoom call from Toronto, Vigneault said it would be nice to end that streak but, understandably, he was more focused on the immediate matters at hand, namely to have his team play well against Montreal.
A playoff victory would be gratifying for the veteran core group consisting of Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, Jake Voracek and Sean Couturier. They’re the only holdovers from that 2012 team which got past Pittsburgh in the first round that year.
“I do know for our group, obviously ‘G’ and Jake and James and ‘Coots’ and all the guys who have been here for a while. . .getting into the playoffs and winning one round is not our goal,’’ Vigneault said. “But it’s our first step.’’
>Myers continues to impress
Much has been said and written about why defenseman Phil Myers wasn’t drafted and eventually signed as a free agent with the Flyers. Clearly, back surgery around the time he was draft eligible factored into that.
Right now, he’s having about as much impact at both ends of the ice as any defenseman on the Flyers’ roster.
“I have no idea (why he wasn’t drafted),’’ Vigneault said. “I don’t know how he played in junior. I do know that since I’ve seen him for a year (including at last year’s World Championships where Vigneault coached), I’ve seen a young man work hard and improve his game.
“Like a lot of our young defensemen, I think we’re scratching the surface. I don’t think he’s reached his full potential. For him to reach his full potential, a lot of that is going to have to be about himself. Working hard, putting in the time and the preparation that is needed to become the best you can be.’’
Myers led all Flyers defensemen in plus-minus with a plus-17 during the regular season.
During the playoffs, his plus-7 not only leads defensemen but the entire Flyers lineup.
“There’s no doubt that Phil has taken strides,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s an important player on our team.’’
>Van Riemsdyk’s status unclear
Vigneault was asked about the status of van Riemsdyk, who was scratched from Game 4. The coach can’t even confirm if JVR’s absence was based on a health issue, although it appears he’s completely healthy.
“As I’ve mentioned, James is working extremely hard,’’ Vigneault said. “At this time, we just decided for the lineup we picked last night.’’
>Explaining turnaround after 5-0 loss
The Flyers made a pretty remarkable turnaround after losing Game 2 by a rather embarrassing 5-0 score. They reversed things by recording back-to-back shutouts.
“That’s our leadership group, the guys who set the standards,’’ Vigneault said. “They set the tone in the room. I don’t want to have to name one particular guy.
“I think this is a team effort. We had a bad game, we hadn’t had one in a while. We don’t want it to happen again. We have to focus on our will and our execution.’’